A metaphor and an analogy are both literary devices used in writing and speech to make comparisons, but each word is used in a different way. It can be really difficult to remember which word you are supposed to use and when.
A metaphor is when a figure of speech directly compares one thing to another thing rhetorically. An analogy also shows how two things are alike with the main goal of bringing attention to those things.
A metaphor is one type of “figure of speech” that compares one thing to another rhetorically. In other words, metaphors are used as one thing to mean another. For example, saying that he’s become a shell of a man is a metaphor because we know that the man is not actually a shell.
Examples of Metaphors
Those words cut deep like a knife. – This is a metaphor because we know that words aren’t actually sharp. The words are hurtful, but there is no physical pain involved. While this is a metaphor, it is also technically a simile because it uses the word like.
Are you feeling blue? – This is a metaphor because we can’t actually feel blue, it is just a way of asking something if they are feeling down or sad.
I just went through a rollercoaster of emotions. – This is a metaphor because our emotions can’t literally take a ride on a rollercoaster. It just means that we experienced high emotions and low emotions.
An analogy is another way to compare two things. In some cases, these comparisons can make you think really hard. An analogy compares two things while using differences and similarities. For example, if you say something is like finding a needle in a haystack, people will assume that the activity is hard.
Some analogies are easy to figure out while others take a little more time to figure out. For example, if someone says talking to their brother is like shoveling your driveway before the snow falls, you might be confused. However, it just means that both activities are useless.
The purpose of an analogy is to clarify or explain what you are trying to say.
Finding a great man is like trying to find a needle in a haystack. – This is an analogy because we know it can take a long time to spot the missing needle and the search can be difficult.
Explaining your joke to people is similar to dissecting a frog. – This is an analogy because it is comparing the action of explaining a joke to the action of dissecting a frog.
Life is like a box of chocolates; you never know what you’re going to get. – This is probably one of the most well-known analogies, as it comes from Forest Gump. The statement is comparing how life is full of surprises and so is a box of chocolate.
What About a Simile?
A simile is another figure of speech that is used to compare different things. A simile is actually a type of metaphor, except you will use comparison words such as like or as. For example, “the wind howled like a wolf“.
That little pup is as brave as a tiger.
Siblings will usually fight like cats and dogs, there’s no way around it.
The house is clean as a whistle.
Trying to remember the differences between an analogy and a metaphor can seem impossible, but luckily it doesn’t have to be. A metaphor is a figure of speech that compares things rhetorically. An analogy will also compare two things, but they use the similarities and differences between the two options.